It’s been a modest yet somewhat surprising first few months of music in 2016. We had a crazy sloppy album release from the former best rapper on the planet (Kanye West with Life of Pablo), and a quiet surprise release from the current best rapper on the planet (Kendrick Lamar with Untitled Unmastered). We’ve had a lot of old favorites come out with some solid releases (M. Ward, Mavis Staples, Santigold), and a few breakout artists catch me by surprise (Anna Meredith, TEEN, Anderson .Paak). Here are five of my favorite songs so far to come out in 2016.
Car Seat Headrest – “Vincent”
Car Seat Headrest, the musical project of Will Toledo, landed as one of our 10 favorite new artists in 2015 and now he’s on track to be one of our favorite artists period. His new single “Vincent” is one of the most exciting rock songs we’ve heard in years. Clocking in at almost 8 minutes, it’s compelling throughout, not letting you tune out for a moment.
Kendrick Lamar – “untitled 02 | 06.23.2014.”
What does it say that Kendrick Lamar’s demos and b-sides (his new surprise album Untitled Unmastered) are better than anyone else’s music period. This may be the best album of demos since Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska (and obviously this album couldn’t be more different). The different voices Kendrick is able to inhabit, the pure gymnastics of his flow, and the incredible musical sophistication in each and every song can’t be matched.
Anna Meredith – “Nautilus”
This is just a straight-up jam. It’s the sort of repetitive, menacing electronic track that just makes you want jump out of your seat and dance. Anna Meredith is a brilliant young Scottish composer and producer that just released her first full-length album in Varmints. It’s an incredibly varied album, but one that offers both experimentation and pop.
TEEN – “Gone for Good”
If you are looking for summer to come sooner than later, listen to the electro-pop cotton candy of TEEN. The all-female Brooklyn quartet know a catchy melody and how to make it as crackling and delicious as possible.
Iggy Pop – “Gardenia”
The Stooges are undoubtedly one of the best rock bands ever, but Iggy Pop really hasn’t released anything that great since he was working with the late David Bowie in the late 70’s. His upcoming album, Post-Pop Depression, may change that, as he is working with Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, who seems to have invigorated the old punk rocker. “Gardenia” is a sort of Bowie-esque romp with a little Lou Reed swag.